We just purchased our first short term rental property at the South Jersey Shore. Home is scheduled for a spring completion. We need to furnish and also get the listing up while we cross our fingers on the completion schedule. Lots of balls in the air at the same time for sure! We welcome any advice we can get.
Do not list the property until it is ready to rent, banking on promised completion date, which is never something to depend on. When your listing goes live, you want to have a nice photo gallery that accurately portrays the property as what guests will experience. I always find it tacky when new hosts post photos of empty or unfinished rooms with listing wording saying “More photos coming” or “Renos in progress”.
Guests can easily get refunds from Airbnb if they present photos showing that the place they arrived to was not accurately portrayed in the listing info.
Guests who would book a place that isn’t yet ready for habitation, doesn’t have a truly representative photo gallery, and the host has no reviews to go on yet, are likely booking simply on the basis of a price that fits their budget, which doesn’t bode well for them being good guests. Also you need to be aware that scammer guests target new hosts.
Also, new listings get a boost in search ranking for the first month or so, and you don’t want to waste that perk by listing before you are confident that you are ready to accept reservations.
There are severe penalties for hosts cancelling reservations, so you certainly don’t want to find yourself in the position of thinking that it was safe to accept bookings starting in March, only to experience supply or labor complications or delays rendering the place not ready on time.
I know it’s tempting to want to see a fully booked calendar for March if you think it will be ready then, trying to start recouping some of your costs ASAP, but I strongly advise to resist that temptation. Use the time between now and then to read hosting forums so you understand how everything works, how to spot red flags in guest communication, how to deal with bad guest situations or situations where there are issues you are responsible for, what to make sure to mention in your listing wording, what you can reasonably expect from guests in terms of clean-up and communication, etc. Also read all the Airbnb policies and their Terms of Service.
And don’t worry- many new hosts find their calendar fills up quite quickly as soon as they list, especially if they are in a desirable location. Between the elevated search ranking for new listings and if you offer a new listing discount, you may be surprised at how quickly bookings start rolling in.
Tell us a little more about your space to get more specific advice.
Three story modern townhouse with three bedrooms, two and one half bathrooms, rooftop terrace. Two short blocks to the restaurants, beach and boardwalk.
Lovely! New listing advice is all over this forum. I have a homeshare which is a little different story. In addition to all the advice that you will get on legality, furnishings and amenities, be sure that you have a simple, well explained set of directions for getting to the home and getting in. Once furnished go stay there for a few nights including weekdays and weekends. This gives you a chance to notice correctable annoyances, conveniences that you may have forgotten and any neighborhood issues. Get some good accounting advice and keep records that let you maximize related tax deductions. Consider a little questionnaire asking your first handful of guests for suggestions.
Okay, here’s one recommendation based on your house description. 3 bedrooms and two and a half baths sounds like a max guest count of 6. It’s best not to try to pack in more guests than will be comfortable there. Make sure your dining and living room seating corresponds to the number of guests you accept. Sometimes you see new listings where the host has crammed in more beds, listed a sleeper sofa in the living room, and their guest count is 12. But they only have a dining table and living room seating suitable for 6 and are expecting 6 people to share a bathroom. Lower guest counts means less wear and tear, less potential for damages, less overuse of utilities, less potential for partiers. 6 guests is a group. 12 guests are already a party atmosphere.
Also, think about your ideal guest demographic. Jersey shore might mean families or couple groups. Market towards the type of guests you want. Don’t try to attract anyone and everyone.
I’m a bit further north from you. As a whole house Jersey Shore rental be careful of young adults renting. Your beautiful home can quickly become a party house causing damage to your furnishings. In a bat of an eye, it will be like Snooki on the Jersey Shore (TV show) with young adults drinking and trashing your place. I would recommend NOT doing instant booking so that you can vet your guests. Have them send a request to book and don’t allow short stays (1 to 3 nights). Be extra cautious in the months of May and June (high school prom after parties, graduation parties, etc.) Also be aware of third party bookings (parents using their crudentials to book a place for their kid and his/her friends to trash your home and not theirs). If there is under age drinking in your house, you’re liable.
Thank you for the comments, we might be crazy but have thought about this strategy. Keep bed count down to six-eight and keep nightly rate a touch higher. Hopefully this will keep out the young party crowd and a family instead. Is this a sound plan or wishful thinking?
I have no experience with more than four guests (our most frequent number is just two).
I would be apprehensive that six would invite partiers. Anything more sounds very risky to me.
You may see in other threads where I talk about being a new host ambassador which means I help new hosts create their listings & provide ingoing mentorship. It’s a free to new host program through Airbnb. If you choose to work with an ambassador, I suggest you interview them & check references to be sure they will give you the support you need. After you host your first guests, Airbnb will pay the ambassador between $350-$750 for helping you. (The
Amount varies depending upon host ambassador’s region).
You will receive lots of input here. All is valuable. It is up to you to decide what fits your goals & hosting needs.
As you get your rental up & going look at your market.
In my area, rentals book 30-60 days in advance. The winter snowbirds are booking now for Oct-April rentals. For example my March & April 2023 are booked.
What is the competition charging? What are the minimum stays?
My initial THOUGHTS & SUGGESTIONS:
Develop a tentative date for bookings to start including renovation time & add 30 days
Look at the usual booking lead time. If you think you will close, renovate & furnish by 9/15, create your listing by 9/15 with reservations starting 10/15. You can always edit your calendar to accept earlier reservations.
Why 30 day delay? You may need some wiggle room in case something isn’t completed as scheduled. Consider staying in your fully furnished rental before anyone else does. You will be surprised what you notice. Ask friends or family to stay & give you feedback.
Consider what will fit your needs: To publish your listing then put it on snooze (cannot be viewed or booked on Airbnb) for long burns up the Airbnb 30 day new host boost that places your rental high in the search results.
Be aware in response to new host complaints the site creation took too long, Airbnb created a 3 part build taking about 3 hours to create a very basic listing you can publish & begin accepting bookings. But to finish the build takes another 6-10 hours.
Consider wants vs needs. Of course you want your home & photographs to be perfect. You’ve already spent a lot of money to purchase the rental. What do you need to do to get it rentable? Would it make sense to put it on the market less than perfect, collect some rent, then renovate in the slow season?
Don’t let seeking perfection get in the way of good enough to make money then renovate.
If you want to create your listing asap with “new pictures coming after we finish updating the rental” then that’s what you should do. Location & price will attract renters. Most rentals do not book last minute so you need to have your listing viewable to allow that booking lead time.
If a potential guest doesn’t like your temporary pictures, don’t worry about it. They will book some place else. Others will be open & accepting of things being in transition. You will be updating photos soon anyway. After your final photos are posted, no one will know you posted temporary pictures.
- Every current host thinks their way is the correct way. A good mentor tells you the options then let’s you choose.
It’s difficult to let others learn & discover but remain supportive (not bossy). If I can share my mistakes so you don’t make them, my mission is complete.
- As you ask questions consider focusing the discussion
What are tips for furnishings needed?
What are tips for maximum occupancy for a xx bedroom, could sleep xx?
What are suggestions for cameras & locks?
Thoughts about minimum stays & advance booking discounts?
At this point, there is a huge ocean of to do’s & learning in front of you. In your innocence, you don’t know what you don’t know.
No one — NO ONE — knew it all when they started. It takes a while to learn & become comfortable. Even hosts like me with 8 years experience are constantly learning & dealing with new situations and occasionally making mistakes.
Best wishes for much success.
You may wish to join a Facebook group for new hosts like:
This group is kinder, gentler when new hosts ask questions that seasoned hosts may not have tolerance for.
Similar to this group, it has excellent moderators (I’m one🤓)
Yes, you will generally have less hassles with lower guest counts, in a lot of respects. Parties, less laundry, less mess.
Remember that nothing is set in stone. You can start out with a 6 person max guest count, and increase it as you gain experience both with the platform itself, and in dealings with guests, and feel able to handle more.
The same goes for using Instant Book. You may want to start out requiring guests to send requests, so you have an opportunity to read any reviews they have and communicate with them before accepting, then as you learn to.pick up on red flags and what you should be asking and informing guests of, you can always switch on IB.
IMO it’s better to start out making things easy on yourself and work up to what you feel you can handle.
Keeping the bed count to six guests is good. I started with 8 and lowered it to 6. However, they will still sneak in extra people.
What has worked best for me is vetting guests. Once I get their name and city, I look them up on the internet just to get an idea if they’re high school or college kids. If so, I immediately contact them and ask for them to cancel the reservation. If they don’t cancel then I call Airbnb. I cancelled twice in four years because of the ages of the guests.
Also in my house rules I have it stated the guests need to be 25 yrs of age or older to book a reservation and that teens cannot be left alone unsupervised, an adult must be present. One group was all teens with no adults. Therefore, I was able to cancel penalty free because it was stated in my house rules (adult supervision).
You might consider installing an outside camera so you can count how many guests are arriving.